In October 1987 he progressed to the weekend early slots from 6-8am and then became presenter of the weekday evening show in January 1988, which went out from 7.30-10pm. Five months later he was offered the Radio 1 breakfast show, regarded as the most prestigious presentation job in UK radio.
The programme became known for various features, including On This Day In History, soundtracked by a looped version of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex", and the long-running cryptic game The Identik-Hit Quiz, where Mayo and his cohorts would 'act' a short scene which cryptically led listeners to the title of a hit song.
He also ran his Confessions feature where members of the public sought absolution for their (often frivolous or humorous) "sins", and it moved to a television series in later years. Mayo had already presented the dilemma show Scruples for BBC television, and had joined his BBC Radio 1 colleagues on the host roster for Top of the Pops.
Both On This Day In History and Confessions spawned spin-off books.
Due to endless plays from Mayo, several unlikely hit singles reached the UK charts, including "Kinky Boots" by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman; "Donald Where's Yer Troosers" by Andy Stewart; and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", sung and written by Eric Idle. For helping Monty Python have a hit with the latter 13 years after it first appeared on the soundtrack to The Life of Brian, Idle presented Mayo with a model bare foot, in the style of the animated version which used to end the opening titles to the TV show.
When Mayo's wife Hilary, a producer whom he met at BBC Radio Nottingham, gave birth to their son Ben in 1991, Mayo took an extended period of paternity leave. The couple subsequently had two more children; Natasha born in 1993 and Joe born in 2000.
Mayo, like all of Radio 1's high-profile presenters of the time, would take his turn to spend a week in a coastal area of the UK during the Radio 1 Roadshows which occurred for three months of the summer. For a short while, he also presented an additional weekend show for the station on a Sunday afternoon and provisionally titled O Solomon Mayo - to cover for the absent Phillip Schofield, who was working in the West End.
Mayo moved on to the mid-morning slot from 9 am to 12 midday, and survived the cull of long-standing presenters which Radio 1 underwent the same year on the arrival of controller Matthew Bannister and his wish to rebrand the station as younger and more 'cutting edge'.
In addition to his mid-morning show, from April 1994 - October 1995, Mayo also presented another show entitled Simon Mayo's Classic Years. This was where he got to play 2 hours of classic pop tunes. The show originally went out on a Sunday lunchtime from 12-2pm, but in November 1994 went out from 10am-12pm on Sundays.
In January 1997, Mayo made a brief return to the breakfast show for three weeks when Chris Evans was dismissed, but both Mayo and Radio 1 ruled out the possibilities of a permanent return to the programme. On his first morning as breakfast stand-in, he read out an email from a man who had emigrated to New Zealand four years earlier and had arrived back in the UK that morning, and was "delighted to hear you're still doing the breakfast show".
In 1999 Simon Mayo broke a world record by broadcasting for 37 hours in aid of that year's Comic Relief.
Mayo remained on the mid-morning slot until he left Radio 1 in 2001, seeing breakfast-show presenters like Mark Goodier, Steve Wright, Chris Evans, Mark Radcliffe, Kevin Greening, Zoe Ball & Sara Cox come and go from the slot.
His final show was on Friday 16th February 2001 and before signing off, he said; One of the reasons I'm not going to do a DLT is that I've nothing to complain about at all - though as I'll still be employed by the BBC it'd be a stupid thing to do. His final record was "Ace Of Spades" by Motörhead.
Mayo duly began broadcasting on Five Live every weekday from 1 to 4 pm, and there he remains. He was on air when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, and received acclaim for the way he handled the station's reaction to the atrocity.
The programme generally combines topical debates, interviews and reviews. It comes live from Westminster each Wednesday for live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions, with discussion and debate afterwards with political correspondents and MPs. The programme also features Mayo's old Radio 1 sidekick Mark Kermode reviewing the new movie releases each Friday afternoon. The banter between Mayo and Kermode in this section of the programme has been described as "wittertainment at its most wittertaining".
On April 4th, 2008 at the 34th annual Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Simon Mayo received the award for radio broadcaster of the year for the Simon Mayo Programme on Five Live.
On May 12th, 2008, Mayo got another accolade. He was named as Speech Broadcaster of the Year at the Sony Radio Awards, the industry "Oscars". The judges said: "Judges admired Simon Mayo’s ability to paint colourful pictures of location and event and his ability to bring the very best out of his guests, encouraging conversation and interaction between them while skilfully nudging and controlling them. A master of light and shade, handling serious and lighter issues with aplomb."
He can still be heard deputising for presenters on the network, usually Johnnie Walker on Sundays.
Simon was heard covering Drive time on Good Friday and Easter Monday on BBC Radio 2. He was also heard covering Drivetime during the week of 31st March 2008 & also covering the Ken Bruce show for 2 week beginning 7th April 2008.
In 2005 he presented a series "The Big Dig" on BBC TV about allotments in the Rhondda Valley contrasted with others in Highgate, London